Facing giants

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1 Chronicles 14:10-17

The Bible highlights a history of conflict between the Philistines and Israelites, especially David. The Philistines are described as a large nation who served other gods. They taunted the Israelites and came against their borders on numerous occasions, this reading narrates one such occasion where the Philistines hear that their enemy David, has been anointed as King and they take up arms against him.

David had the loyalty and command of a mighty army and he had built up many alliances during his years of fleeing from Saul and living a nomadic life. In 1 Chronicles 12 there is a record of his alliance with 303 622 trained men and their commanders. I often flip through genealogies and numerical records, but this particular chapter (12) made me realise how YHWH provided and prepared David as a military man and leader of Israel. Although David is surrounded and supported by these trained men and commanders, he turns to YHWH for advice in facing the Philistine advance. In 1 Chron 14: 10 David directly inquires of YHWH. He askes two questions: Do I go against them? Will You give me victory over them?

These questions are contrary to the way I ask for help. When I am faced by difficulties or giants my go-to question is not a question but rather a panicked plea: Oh YHWH, help me please! There is a lesson to be learnt from the approach taken by David, a man after YHWH’s own heart. David admits dependency on YHWH, and his questions demonstrate a relationship of trust and fear for the Father. Remember this fear is not a knee knocking fear, but a respect for the greatness of YHWH. David acknowledges that YHWH is a living Elohim (1 Chron 13:12). He has an undivided heart and faith that YHWH will show him what to do. David does not panic and plead, he seeks guidance out of relationship and trust. It is important that we recognise David’s dependence and humility in seeking the will of YHWH. He is cognisant of the power and sovereignty of YHWH in all matters.

David not only seeks the will of the Father, but he enquires as to what the outcome will be. He asks, “Will You give me victory over them?” This question stopped me in my tracks and made me reflect on how often I expect a good outcome, how often I must act like a toddler who wants everything to go their way. David exposes that he will accept the will of the Father, victory or not. All too often I ask “what is Your will?” but neglect to seek the outcome – good or bad (as in not what I want). YHWH’s answer is immediate and concise, to the first question He answers – Go. The second, “I will give them into your hand.” There is no second guessing here. David actions the army and YHWH’s word is fulfilled.

BUT – these Philistines are not done yet. In verse 14 we read how David approaches YHWH again. He does not rely on his passed victory, he does not take it for granted that the outcome will be the same. This is a big lesson for me in seeking the will of the Father consistently to make sure that I stay in His will. This time the instructions vary. First of all David is told NOT to go AFTER the Philistines, but to go around and FACE them. Not to chase them but to confront them face on. I love the fact that YHWH tells David that the army must not attack until they hear the wind rustling in the Mulberry trees. No dramatic charging, just the wind rustling. YHWH tells David, “For YHWH shall GO BEFORE you.” David is obedient, this mighty leader and king does exactly what he is instructed. He does not consult with his commanders, make an auxiliary plan or add extra precautions. He does EXACTLY as he is told.

So, how do you fight battles in your life? How do you approach the enemy who is warring against you? How do we are the bride of Yeshua battle against the attacks on the Church? Are we offering panicked pleas without seeking explicit answers, do we make our own plans or even “reinforce” instructions from YHWH because in our minds these are too simple or scary? Do we ask for help but not seek His way, or listen to His instruction and end up disheartened and hopeless? In 1Chron 14 there were two attacks from the same enemy. Both times David trusted and was dependent on YHWH – regardless of the outcome. YHWH said that David was a man after His own heart, and when Samuel anointed David as a boy YHWH told the prophet that He looked upon the heart of man. This would signal that when we approach YHWH in time of battle we need to check our heart/motives and make sure that we seek the will of the Father, no matter what the outcome is.

David showed humility, he had a relationship with YHWH and loved Him with an undivided heart. Although David had great position in life, he recognised that he was a vessel in the hands of the Father. He was also very aware of his responsibility and the lives of his followers, his motives and heart were in line with the will of the Father. Perhaps the lesson here is that we should not chase our enemies, but rather face them in the knowledge that Yeshua Messiah has already overcome battles, He has already won the victory. YHWH has a plan for our lives, it is HIS plan – not ours – and to stay in that plan we need to enquire of Him. What and how? Then we need to listen and obey without amending the plan. Jeremiah 29: 14 -15 follows the famous verse about YHWH having a plan of good and not for evil. These verses are key to unlocking these good plans, and tell us to seek Him, and He shall be found. That we are to ask and we shall be heard.

What fragrance do you leave?

Let me be a sweet fragrance to those around me, let my fragrance bring honour to Yeshua.

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I awoke this morning with the word fragrance on my mind. In the Bible, fragrance is mentioned reference to oils and anointing. In Exodus 30, YHWH instructs the priests to mix a sacred oil for consecrating the altar. In Revelations 5:8 we read, “And when He took the scroll, the four living creatures, and the twenty-four elders, fell down before the Lamb. Each holding a harp, and golden bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the set-apart ones.” If our prayers are incense this implies that our prayers are sweet smelling.

This made me ponder if my prayers were sweet smelling, how could they be? Are my prayers lists of complaints, and requests, to fix things that are not working to my benefit? Do I groan, and moan, about my life… OR are my prayers petitions with thanksgiving? Do I worship Him Who sits on the throne and does my heart (that is what YHWH looks at) emit a fragrance that edifies Yeshua my bridegroom?

We read in Esther that in preparation for her marriage to the king Esther spent twelve months preparing herself. She bathed in myrrh for six months, and then spent another six months using fragrant spices and oils. This was not synthetic perfume, but essential oils that would have seeped into her pores, leaving a scent when she entered, and exited, a room. People would know she had been there because her fragrance would linger. I started to wonder, what fragrance I left behind, if any? When I enter a room do I cause people to choke because I give off a toxic fragrance, full of criticism, negativity? Or do I walk into a room as the bride of Yeshua, with a fragrance that is unmistakably that of a bride preparing for the return of her Bridegroom? A spiritual fragrance that is reminiscent of love, patience, honouring my Yeshua.

I came across a website, that gave a good background into the use of perfume and fragrance in Biblical times. It reminded me that essential oils were expensive, and used to mask odours, during gatherings. (http://www.kubik.org/health/perfumes.htm). The article discussed the development of fragrances and how synthetic additions to perfume brings down the cost, and allows fragrances to hold their aroma longer.

Some of us use perfume, or aftershave, to make ourselves smell good. We cover our natural smell with synthetic fragrance. How do synthetic, man-made doctrines, and followings, cover the Truth? Do they strip the true essential oils and fragrances off our worship, faith and prayer? In addition, how many times do I leave a synthetic fragrance when I leave a room? A fragrance that I want others to see? This thought extends to my spiritual life, am I doing worship because it is what I should be doing, or is it out of a deep desire to be in His presence?? Do I know what the Truth is, or am I unable to sense the Truth because I have become accustomed to synthetic faith? These are questions I asked myself, and reflecting on them was a good exercise. The Set Apart Spirit convicted me of a few untruths, and synthetic beliefs that I am dealing with.

I have a very dear friend and she has shared her knowledge of essential oils with me, she is an example of a fragrant bride of Christ. She fills the room with a fragrance of acceptance, she never judges people, but rather actions love. When she leaves a room she leaves a sense of peace, fellowship, and love for her Bridegroom. She encourages, and upholds, those around her in prayer. Her fragrance is not from essential oils, it is a spiritual fragrance. Being in her company is always so special because she oozes a love for Yeshua that is tangible. This might be a bit warm and fuzzy for the boys, and maybe this would be that person that encourages you by being loyal, honest, and supportive. Someone that you can be yourself with, without fearing condemnation, competition, or put down.

We are all called to be the body of Yeshua, the bride. We are all called to trim our lamps, gather oil, and prepare for the return of Yeshua. If we are in this state of preparation then surely we get oil on our hands, the fragrance of what we are busy with lingers on us and permeates our houses. I recall my mum baking bread and making soup on a cold day. The whole house smelt so warm and inviting, when I gave Mum a kiss I could smell that aroma of baked bread in her hair…that is what I am getting at. If we are sitting in His presence, soaking in His word, breaking bread, filled with the Set-Apart Spirit of Truth, and fearfully and prayerfully using oils that set us apart – then surely we should have a Heavenly, Christ-like fragrance. A fragrance of a bride preparing for her Bridegroom’s return.

YHWH, I thank You that You look upon my heart. I pray that as Your bride prepares herself for the return of Yeshua that we will be His fragrance to the world. That this fragrance will draw the lost to You, will bring esteem and honour to Your name. I ask that my prayers esteem Your name and be a sweet smelling fragrance to You. Amen

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

St. Francis of Assisi – 13th century

The Toy Basket

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Walking passed my granddaughter’s toy basket I smiled as I pictured the delight on her face as she unpacked the contents of the basket. I could hear her giggles and instantaneously missed her presence. As a grandparent, and parent, I always take and took time to find toys for each child, considering their interests and age, objects that excite, ignite interest and/or inspire imagination. Each toy or gift is carefully selected – weighing their value, contribution to development and joy they will bring. I purposely and lovingly hand-picked each toy to bring a sense of enjoyment. This basket was not only filled with toys/gifts, but it was a token of love, nurture and hope.

The toy basket made me reflect on being a child of the Most High YHWH. Our Father, knows what we need before we ask for it, He knows our every thought before we have thought it and He hopes we will make right choices. He lovingly chose talents, gifts and blessings and placed them in our ‘basket’ in the hope that we would know His love, be inspired, ignited and equipped to fulfil His purpose. Sometimes gifts are not toys, for instance I made a dress for my granddaughter and she swirled around the shops, swishing the skirt as she walked, announcing to passing strangers that her Nanna had made her dress. She showed her delight in what had been created for her by sharing her joy. What are you doing with your lovingly created gift from the Spirit of YHWH? Are you hiding it in a safe place or are you sharing your joy bringing esteem to the Giver of the gift? My heart warmed at my granddaughter’s antics, it made me want to rush home and make more dresses – not for accolade from strangers, but because she showed such appreciation and joy at what I had given her.

In 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11 Paul writes concerning the gifts given to us by the Spirit of YHWH. In this passage Paul highlights that these gifts are specific to each of us, that they are given in accordance to the will of the Father. In verse 11, Paul writes that the gifts are given to all as the Spirit of YHWH decides, given in love. When I made that dress or put together the toy basket it was an action of love, I hoped that my granddaughter would wear the dress, use the toys, and treasure these items – specifically given to her. The gifts we receive from the Spirit of YHWH are bestowed upon each individual, and YHWH hopes that you will use what He has gifted you, that you will value His gift and that you will share the joy of His gift, and in doing so bring Him glory.

Let us reflect: is there a gift that we have not used, or that we are hiding? For my granddaughter to play with her toy basket , she has to be at my house. Perhaps we have not discovered our gift because we have not been in the Father’s presence for a while. Sometimes I will buy something new and pop it in the box as a surprise, I do this because I love to spoil her, love to see the delight on her little face. Abba Father enjoys spoiling His children, He loves to hear the praises of His chosen ones. Be aware that we serve a God that loves generosity, loves a joyful heart and a thankful heart. YHWH paid the ultimate price in enabling us to have life, and life abundantly through His Son. When was the last time you sat in  the presence of Abba Father? Have you used the gifts that He so lovingly gave to you? He is hoping that you will use the gifts and desires to hear your voice, see your smile and know your heart.

Matthew 25:14-30 narrates the parable of the talents. In summary servants are given talents [gifts] by the master, these are the master’s talents. Each servant was specifically given a set amount of talents and in the absence of the master two of the three servants did something with their talents, and were rewarded for using them. However, one servant hid his talent out of fear that he would anger the master if he lost the talent. I am often like this servant, I am scared that I may “misuse” the talent and tend to hide it. BUT, gifts we receive are specific to us and given in love by YHWH who never gives His children things that they can’t deal with. He always empowers us through His Spirit AND it is not about me, but it is about Him in me. I think that it is time I stepped up and start to swirl and twirl in His gifts, proclaiming to strangers the love of the Father, sharing my joy in His gifts and love. Join me in discovering your specific gifts, in sharing these gifts and His love in joy to others around you.

Father, You have given us so  much. You have made a way for us to gain eternal life through Your Son. You bless us beyond our needs, we only need to step outside of our worldly lives to see the beauty of Your creation. You have a plan for our lives, a plan to prosper us and to give us life expectancy. You, Father are our provider, we are Your children and if we as parents know how to provide for our children, how much more do You know how to provided for us. Forgive us for not always seeking Your Kingdom first. Spirit of Truth guide us in using the gifts You have specifically given to us, and guide us in using them for the esteem and glory of our Father. Amen

The purpose of a funnel

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I used to think that I was a closed vessel, such as a jug in the Kingdom; and that YHWH would poor His anointing into us and the overflow would flow onto others around us. I was praying about this one day asking to be filled so I could ‘splash’ others. I was convicted by the Set-Apart Spirit that YHWH does not waste anointing. I remember thinking that I had not heard correctly, how could He waste it if He filled me? Then I was convicted of my attitude of pride/self-importance. Needless to say I had to deal with my attitude before I could receive from the Father. YHWH showed me a picture of a funnel filling a jar with oil. The hand holding the vessel was steadily dispensing oil into jars so not a drop of oil was spilt. The pouring was purposeful. YHWH showed me that He wanted funnels who would funnel His love, His mercy, His word to others.

I remember thinking that funnels have no bottom and they are never full. YHWH showed me that the mouth of the funnel was coated in oil, a layer of what had been poured through the funnel coated the mouth of the funnel. When we allow Him to use us as a funnel we receive in fullness and there is always enough for us, what is poured through us remains in us.

Funnels have wide openings, showing that we need to be open to Him, His word and Spirit. Open to obeying and seeking His will, careful with what we are given and not withholding that which He bestows upon us from blessing others. The storehouses of Heaven are full and Abba Father is waiting for funnels through which He can funnel His love to His people. Be open to receive and give where and when the Hand of God requires.

Be still and listen

Be still and know that I AM YHWH

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Read: 1 Samuel 3

Samuel was raised by Eli from the age of three and was taught the Torah. We read in this chapter that Eli was reliant upon Samuel, as he was blind and needed assistance in getting around the Temple. This explains why Samuel responded to the voice by jumping up and running to Eli’s bedside, an indication as to the dedication and servant-heart of the young boy.

In verse 1 Scripture tells us that Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. This shows that not only is Samuel dedicated in serving but he is obedient and assists Eli daily. We read that Eli’s sons were rebellious and that Eli had turned a blind eye to their sinful ways. It is interesting to read that Samuel served the Lord by assisting the priest, in other words there is no indication of a living-relationship between God and Samuel. In fact in verse 7 we are told that Samuel ‘did not know the Lord yet’ and it is for this reason that he did not recognise the voice of YHWH. Samuel would have been very aware of who YHWH was and through learning the Torah and serving in the Temple he would have had a good knowledge of what YHWH had done, yet this knowledge did not translate to a relationship with Father YHWH. This knowledge only translated once Samuel recognised the voice of YHWH.

In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep will recognise My voice; I know them and they follow Me.” The words recognise and follow indicate a relationship, to follow someone you need to know them. For Jesus to say that His sheep recognise His voice points to a personal knowledge of what His voice sounds like and the fact that He has been able to get to know the sheep. The Bible tells us however that before Samuel stepped into his calling as a prophet the voice of YHWH was rarely heard. This signals that sin and crookedness inhibits a relationship with the Father. Eli realised that Samuel is being called by the Heavenly Father, YHWH, and he instructed the youngster to go back to bed, to lie down and to respond with the words, “Speak, Your servant is listening”, and not to jump up but to lie down and listen.

One of my flaws is that I start to listen, then I rush off using my assumptions to complete the instruction. This frustrates those who are speaking to me and it is only after getting things wrong so many times that I have learnt to stop, listen and make sure I understand what I heard. All too often we hear, jump up and run off, much like Samuel who was so eager to serve, jumping in and out of bed but not stopping to listen, to recognise the voice calling. We are all guilty of this, when often all that is required of us is to be still, know who is speaking and listen. Being still and knowing the voice of YHWH is necessary in preparing to serve and fulfil our purpose, we need to ask for spiritual ears that hear and listen.

There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a verb that is used to describe what happens when your ears capture a sound. You hear a noise/sound but unless you listen you do not  engage thinking to focus on the noise/sound and make sense of what it means, what action it requires you to take. As a mother and teacher I would often ask, “Did you not hear me?” The answer often given was yes, and this would annoy me as I would want to know why the required action to the statement or question had not been taken. I should have asked, “Did you listen to what I said?” I can assure you the response would have been different. How often do we hear Father, but because of our busyness we jump to action and run off with our own agenda, without double checking we understand what He wants? Should we not take more time to be still and listen?

When you listen it means you are making sense of the sounds you hear. You recognise the source and allow your brain to translate the sounds into meaningful phrases. Listening involves understanding and even questioning if you are not sure. One of the best ways to listen is to paraphrase what you heard, do we take time to be still and do this with YHWH? In verse 15 we read that Samuel lies down and listens. He obeyed Eli and because he listened he was able to answer the call with , “I am listening.” He was not distracted, he was focused on the voice of YHWH. This takes a servant-heart, to listen so we can obey and serve.

We read that after Samuel received the prophetic word, he did not jump up and run to Eli, but stayed in bed lying down, still and quiet. It was only when Eli directly asked him what God had said that Samuel spilt the beans. There is a lesson to be gleaned from this, a lesson about attitude. Samuel had a servant-heart, he was obedient and he listened by lying down and being still. We are told at the end of this chapter that Samuel received many more messages from YHWH and that he became known as a man that heard from the Father.

Eli was told by God that he would loose his sons on the same day because of their sinful ways. However Eli heard but did not listen. I am of the opinion that if he had listened he would have heeded the warning and taken steps to rectify their wayward behaviour. Eli was not only physically blind but he was spiritually blinded as well, even spiritually deaf. I think that his sons became so wrapped up in the world that they stopped listening to Father and to Eli, they became deaf and this caused their death.

Life bombards us with noise and sound. We have voices coming at us from screens, radios, music, peers and life. It is so hard to listen to all of these voices telling us how to dress, how to eat, how to exercise, what to drive, buy and be….We need to choose which voice we are going to listen to, which voice we are going to trust and seek to hear. We need to become quiet and listen to the beautiful voice of YHWH. I am reminded of the scripture, where Elijah listens for the voice of the Lord God Almighty. The voice of Elohim is not in the windstorm, earthquake or fire but in the gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). To listen to a gentle whisper you need to be still and listen BUT also recognise His voice distinguishing it from all other noise.

Ask Father God to speak to you, take time to build up a relationship with Him, where you recognise His voice, where you know when He is close and can distinguish the faintest of whispers. Know the voice of the Shepherd and you will find peace, grace and loving-commitment. You may still need to jump up and do something but it will be because you have been told to jump up, because you have listened to His voice and you are following His plans. Be still and know that He is YHWH and that His plan for your life is for good, take time to ask Him and seek His answers and voice (Jer 29:11 – 14).

Abba Father, I wish to hear your voice, even the faintest of whispers that I will serve you without distraction, I wish to hear from You and intimately know the sound of Your voice. I ask that You would unblock my spiritual ears and make me deaf to worldly noises, so that my ears distinguish Your Set-Apart Spirit of Truth, and that I may recognise the voice of my beloved Saviour. Amen

Guard His ways and delight in Him

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Ps 37:4

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I would like to encourage you to read Samuel 22:20-23. In these verses we read that YHWH brings out, delivers, delights in, rewards and repays. These are the actions of a Father towards His children according to their righteousness, the cleanness of your hands, and the way you guard the way of the Father. It is clear that Abba Father desires to give us much more, more than we can comprehend.

In today’s society we are driven to succeed and to “please” others, and increasingly to please ourselves. However, these verses remind us that as children of the Most High we are called to delight in His love and seek His will. John 14:23 is one of my favourite verses as it holds an amazing promise. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me. My Father will love you and We will make Our home with you.” Wow, the Father, Son and Spirit will MAKE a home with me! A home is a place of belonging, protection, love and rest. I love this promise and it helps me to seek His will, to proclaim my love daily and to delight in having a home with YHWH. The requisite to this delightful prospect is to love Him, obey Him and seek right-ruling, being pure in worship and faith. To delight Yeshua you need to serve Him with an undivided heart and pure motives. God delights in those that guard His ways and Word. Those who love His Son and allow the Set-Apart Spirit of Truth to dwell in them. More of Him and less of me. God delights in the humble of heart, those who are totally dependent on His providence and do all things through the strength of  Yeshua for the glory of YHWH.

To guard His way and Word, we must understand the Way. Guarding something implies that what you are protecting, keeping safe and close to you is of value. To guard something means that you are willing to sacrifice something to keep it safe. You can’t guard something that you don’t know about or know where it is. You are not likely to guard something that has no value to you. Bodyguards are specially trained to defend persons of importance and are equipped with skills used to protect their charge, but most importantly they are willing to die for this person. Are you trained in knowing the Word, will you willingly sacrifice yourself for His Word and way? Do you guard the Word from dust by rubbing a finger over it now and again, is it hidden somewhere safe? The safest spot to hide the Word of God is in your heart, keeping it there and feeding upon it. Checking and measuring your thoughts with the Living Word is a good way of keeping your feet on the Way.

Staying with the analogy of guards, we need to be equipped to guard. Paul talks of putting on the armour of God – of ensuring that you are protected and understand who you are and how to use your equipment. Being equipped to guard the Word and will of YHWH means you need to understand who you are in Yeshua, that you are His redeemed and beloved, His Kallah (bride). You need need to be dressed in garments of praise and worship, be filled with His Spirit, ask and seek for wisdom, understanding, knowledge, Truth, power and might and clothe yourself in the fear of YHWH Most High. This fear is not the knee knocking fear, rather it is an awe, respect and wonderment for the Father as creator and author of life. Delight in your Father’s love.

To delight in something implies that you light up, you beam and that your mood and body is enlightened. There is a sense of rejoicing, a sense of joy and contentment. Father enjoys it when you delight in His creation, the beauty, variation and complexity of living things, the power of the ocean and weather. When is the last time that you really delighted in the beauty of the crashing waves, the sound of a storm, marvelled at the colours of a bird and their ability to soar in the sky. We are quick to moan about the cold wind that whips up sand, the rain that wets washing or cancels a picnic – these are moments of awesome creation. I love scuba diving or snorkelling. The storm can be whipping up the sea, yet beneath the very same waters in a world of colour and tranquillity. We serve a God that is alive and we need to take our noses out of books, eyes off screens, ears away from music and noise and see His awesomeness – delight in what He has created.

Take delight in knowing that each new day is interwoven with opportunities to serve Him, to learn more about Him, to grow in love and fear at His loving-commitment to you. Delight in the love letters that you receive during the day, the little moments that are close to your heart, a smile from a stranger or a sunset that reminds you of how loved you are by the Creator. Ask YHWH to reveal to you a glimpse of His love for you, look to the cross and delight in your Saviour. Guard these moments, put His Word deep into your heart, guard that which has value and does not rust or get lost.

Father, You are so amazing and I love You. The words tumbling from my lips cannot express my delight, see my heart. Spirit of YHWH, help me fear YHWH, grow my knowledge and understanding of His Word deep in my heart, so that I may guard His Word. Guide me daily in Your Ways and equip me I pray to do Your will and seek right-ruling. I desire to delight in Your Word and purpose for my life for the glory and delight of Your Son. Amen